Coutu looks to jumpstart NFL career with Morten Andersen

Brandon Coutu is looking for an edge as he tries to secure a spot in the NFL.

He might have found it in the league’s all-time leading scorer.

Coutu, a former University of Georgia kicker, has spent the off-season working with Morten Andersen before he returns to Seattle this month for training camp. Coutu made the Seahawks roster after being drafted in the seventh round last season, one of only two kickers selected. However, he was on the inactive list for every regular-season game as the Seahawks turned the kicking duties over to veteran Olindo Mare. It’s not common for a team to carry two placekickers.

Enter Andersen.

He finished his 25-year NFL career with 2,544 points scored and started Morten Andersen Global (www.mortenandersen.com). In part, he offers training for pro- and college-level kickers through clinics and one-on-one instruction.

“He’s been kicking longer than I’ve been alive,” Coutu said. “He’s been kicking in the NFL longer than I’ve been alive. It’s an opportunity to be able to come out and pick his brain and see how he got to where he got and learn everything I can — to just absorb, listen and try to get better.”

The two, along with trainer Keith Elmore, worked out this week at Central Forsyth High School in Cumming. Andersen watched as Coutu kicked field goals from 38, 42, 45 and 50 yards. They all sailed through the uprights. Remember, Coutu never missed a PAT at Georgia and had a career field-goal percentage of 80 percent.

“When I was young ... I looked up to Jan Stenerud and these guys and I learned a lot from them, but I didn’t have a guy that was hands-on,” Andersen said. “So this is something, to me, that’s the missing link.

“With all due respect to special-teams coaches, they are schematic. They are great at scheming. Not a lot of them are really good at teaching the art of kicking and what it takes. There are a lot of misconceptions and misnomers about what it takes to be a kicker. It’s very detail-oriented. It’s a high-performance business. A lot is demanded of the position.”

It wasn’t just about kicking field goals. Andersen ran Coutu through a series of game situations. He even had Coutu stand on the sidelines and run onto the field for one kick. “Forty-nine-yarder. Tie game. No timeouts. Make it, you win,” Andersen yelled.

Attention was turned to kickoffs, an area in which Coutu must improve. He made all seven of his field-goal attempts last preseason. Mare made 24 of 27 field-goal attempts during the season and put 31 percent of his kickoffs in the end zone, good for top five in the league.

“Kickoffs are the thing right now for him,” Andersen said. “We’re trying to get more power through the kickoff, better hang time and better distance. His ball-striking on his field goals is exceptional, but in order to be a complete NFL kicker you have to both of those skill-sets. The field-goal skill-set I’m pretty confident with, and I’m adding some of the mental specific things, putting him in tough situations.

“If you want to play at the highest level on Sunday afternoon, you have to practice at the highest level.”

When Coutu connected on a good kick, Andersen let him know it. He yelled “thank you” after one kickoff landed in the end zone.

“I’m just here trying to learn and have another set of eyes so that when I hit a good ball they tell me exactly where I was,” said Coutu, who has also worked with former Georgia and NFL kicker Kevin Butler. “Sometimes where you truly are in your technique and where you want to be are two different things. It’s good that he can reiterate what I do when I do something wrong and when I do something right.

“When I hit a really good ball, and that’s where I want to be, I can try to duplicate that. But when someone tells me where I’m at, I’m able to visually see it and try to replicate it.”

Coutu leaves for Seattle on July 30 with the intention of winning the kicking job. Mare has one year remaining on a two-year deal.

“They wouldn’t have kept me if they didn’t see something in me,” Coutu said. “I’m going to go in there and I know it’s going to be an open competition, and I’m going to prepare myself the best I can. ... No matter what happens, the more I learn from [Andersen] is only going to make me better.”